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Real Men Don't Talk

by Stephen Lautens

October 8, 1999

Real men don't talk.

I'm not talking about whether we'd blab under torture. I know I would. All they'd have to do is play "La Vida Loca" two times a day more than MuchMusic already does and I'd tell them anything.

No. I mean men actually talking. You know - about stuff, otherwise known as feelings. And not just whether you're feeling hungry or cold.

Women do not understand that when alone, men just don't "talk".
I'm a modern guy. I'm in touch with my feminine side - although my feminine side is starting to suggest that maybe we should start seeing other people. The simple fact is when men are alone together, we don't talk about our women or jobs, or how we wish we could forge closer relationships with our fathers.

I'm not saying it's healthy. I'm sure it's not. Some of us keep it bottled up inside and have ulcers, heart attacks or eventually a neighbourhood reign of terror with a stolen Zamboni. That's why World War Two should basically be considered just another form of group therapy for men. Bar fights are really two men trying to let each other feel their pain. Nothing brings you closer to your fellow man than a good boot to the groin.

My friend Rob and I get together almost every week. We've been friends for more than 20 years. After every visit my wife asks: "So, what did you and Rob talk about?"

The answer is almost always the same: "Nothing". She thinks I'm lying. She thinks there's some big secret conversation going on between the beers and cigars. That we're talking about our hopes and dreams, secret longings or maybe our vision for world peace.

But really, we're talking about nothing. It's true - I swear. I can tell you I have a great time when Rob and I are shooting the breeze. We laugh a lot, tell stories, and generally keep it pretty light. The conversation just sort of flows from politics to movies to old friends to current events. We'll even talk about recipes, but only if they involve steak and scotch. We are men, after all.

The fact is, men just constantly engage in small talk when we're alone together.

"So did you ask Rob how Debbie's job is going?" my wife will ask.

"No," I'll reply.

"Well, did his brother's wife have the baby?"

"I don't know." I seem to recall that Rob has a brother, but that's the best I can do. I feel like I have to volunteer something, so I start to grasp at straws. "Rob did show me a picture he took of a fire truck parked on their street."
"What was it there for? Was there a fire? Is everyone okay?" My wife senses there must be a story behind the photo.

"Rob didn't say."

This is the point when my wife stops asking me questions and gives me the look reserved for difficult children and political canvassers.

Once over a few beers on the porch, one of my male friends looked at the assembled group of guys and asked: "Do you ever think about your role as a man?" Talk about a show-stopper. You may be able to get away with something like that on Oprah, but not on a porch full of men.

After a round of blank stares, discussions immediately returned to whether Schwartzenegger has gone soft on gratuitous violence since his heart by-pass.

Who says we don't talk about important issues?

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